Monday, July 30, 2012

On Accepting Help.

I had surgery recently and my recovery has taken way longer than I expected. This has been a big (like, Mt. Rushmore big) problem for this Type A, always-on-the-go, homeschooling troop-coordinator business-owner mother of two. The doctor said total bedrest for a week, then up and about, slowly, as I can tolerate (which, in hindsight, I interpreted as "back to life as I knew it" when I should have interpreted it as "1 hour up and about, 23 hours in bed, for the following few weeks.")

Aahhh bedrest. At first I welcomed the idea. A whole week of lying in bed, watching TV, someone bringing me three square meals a day, the puppy snuggled at my side. Like vacation without having to pack! One doctor-odered, fully-justified week of being waited on without guilt. A busy mom's dream, right? 


The first week is a total blur. Pain, drugs, no appetite, more pain, nausea from the meds cuz I couldn't eat because of pain, no appetite, more drugs. Total. Fog.

I'm no stranger to surgery (and it's subsequent recovery.) I have a heart condition that required a pacemaker at the age of 21 and have had three surgeries for that alone thus far, plus I've had my gallbladder and appendix removed (on separate occasions.) Granted, this surgery was a little more intense (abdominal, not elective, emotionally troublesome) but I'm an old hat at surgery and recovery. I thought, "I got this. Bring on the vacay in my bed!"

Wrong again.

I'm currently 18 days post-surgery, still in pain most hours, and committed to the couch the majority of my day. What the heck?!? Is it because I'm older now and recovery is slower? Probably. Did I set my expectations too high for how soon I'd be back to normal? Most likely. Was I passively dismissive when the doctor said six weeks recovery time? (Six weeks? Pssshhh. I'll be back at it in three.) Ok, fine. Yes.

Being on bedrest gives you ample time to think about all the things that need to be done that aren't getting done because you're the only one who does them (notice I didn't say "because you're the only one who CAN do them." More on that later.) The laundry is piling up, the sheets on my bed need changing, and there's pink slime growing in my shower. I've spent countless hours the past two weeks watching these things take shape and mourning the fact that I can't fix them right now. I'm definitely a fixer.

It's not that my house is ever perfect. In fact, it's quite the opposite. I'm surprised my husband has stuck around as long as he has with my messy-ness. He must really love me. 

The truth is (humble hat on), I'm no stranger to the laundry piling up or pink slime in my shower. That is, in fact, quite the norm around here. I'm busy. If given the chance, I will most definitely choose to bake or Tweet or play a game with my kids over a date with a shower brush and some Scrubbing Bubbbles. 

The issue isn't the fact that these things need to be done. They ALWAYS need to be done! The problem I am having is that, right now, there is nothing I can do about them. I physically cannot scrub my shower or change the sheets on my bed. And. It's. Killing. Me.

But, it's also showing me how much I don't usually let others in to help when I need it. If given the chance, I'm first in line to bring a meal or shop for someone else. But when it's my turn to let others bless me, I resist. Why? Is it because admitting I need help means work on someone else's part and so I feel guilty? Probably. Is it because I don't think they will do the laundry the way I want it done? (Whites on hot, colors on cold, bleach with the towels.) Absolutely. Is it because I'm too prideful to let them see that my house is in utter disarray and I worry what they will think of me? Most definitely. 

It's not that I'm the only one who does things around here. It's that I'm the only one I allow to do things around here. Others CAN. Every single one of my friends run perfectly fabulous homes and have perfectly taken care of families of their own (and probably all have pink slime in their shower, too....ok, maybe not ALL of them.) 

What these past 18 days have shown me (well, the coherent ones anyway) is that it not only takes a village to raise your children. It takes a village to help YOU be the daughter of a King. One who loves but also allows herself to be loved. One who gives freely but also receives graciously. And One who serves but allows others to wash her whites on cold.

Go let someone help you. It's actually quite freeing.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

On being a phony.

I admit it. I'm a total phony. But don't judge me too quickly. Cuz you're a phony, too.

We're all hypocrites on some level. Come on, you know it's true. We've all found ourselves yelling, "Stop yelling at me/your brother/your sister!" We argue with our spouse or are children (or both) on the way to church only to turn our frown instantly upside down the moment we step inside. We smile and tell others we're "great" when they ask how we're doing when what we really want to do is vomit our true feelings all over them. Yep. We're all on the phony list.

On any given day, you might walk past my house and hear me hollering at my kids to put their dishes in the dishwasher; or, you might hear me and my husband engaged in a very "spirited" conversation about the bills. If you were a fly on my wall for a day (or an hour), you might just think I had an alter personality who has shoved the woman you know and love aside and taken complete control of my body and mind. Trust me, you really might.

For me, the magnifying glass exposing my phony-ness feels even more amplified because I lead others in worship. From the stage on Sunday mornings, I often struggle between helping others step into communion with our LORD and savior and, well, stepping into communion with him myself. Most Sundays, I'm so preoccupied with my own sins and failures that I forget to connect with those listening. Selfishly, my purpose on that stage is to make my way through the internal war that rages on inside me, not you. Alas, someone will inevitably find me after a Sunday of singing and comment about how much they love it when I sing or how much they enjoyed the music that day. What they don't know is most times I'm choking back tears because I feel like I'm so not worthy of being on that stage leading others. I can hardly lead myself.

But, there's a beautiful side to being a phony. Without our phony-ness, we can't recognize the truth and we can't help others through their own phony-ness. Without our hypocrisy, we can't experience the beauty of repentance or restoration. If we were perfect to begin with, what would be the drive to become more like Jesus? Love like Jesus? Witness for Jesus? 

Hypocrisy should serve as a sort of self actualization, reminding us we are all equal at the foot of the cross. Change in our phony-ness comes when we realize our fallibility, and the fallibility of others, are one in the same. 

While I probably won't ever stop seeing my phony self in the mirror every morning (and again every evening) I will fight that alter personality until the day I die so "she" will never be able to take my heart. My heart that belongs to Jesus, despite my sins and struggles and total failures on a day-to-day basis, does not belong to the world. This heart of mine that God says is His gets torn in pieces regularly, so much so I want to run away and hide or put up a wall that can't be broken down. But despite feeling one way yet portraying myself another, my desire is to never stop fighting no matter how defeated I feel. And that's what matters to Him.

Go embrace your phony life.